SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Jarmal Reid’s split-second decision to trip a referee sent Oregon State to a loss — and could cost the Beavers’ forward a whole lot more.
Reid sent referee Tommy Nunez tumbling to the court and was ejected with 2:56 remaining, starting Utah’s rally that led to a 59-53 victory Sunday night.
“I don’t know what he thought on that play,” Utah’s Jacob Poeltl said. “It’s unusual, to say the least.”
After stealing the ball from Poeltl, who was driving to the basket, Reid tried dribbling upcourt. But a lunging Poeltl seemed to bump Reid and the Oregon State forward slipped and fell to the floor.
Reid complained that there was no foul call and while getting up it appeared that he made eye contact with Nunez and stuck his right leg out. Nunez went right down.
“It was obviously a fortuitous deal for us,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “Not a great break for them. It’s unfortunate that was part of the game.”
Reid was assessed a Flagrant 2, and Brandon Taylor made the free throw to give Utah a 53-52 lead — its first lead of the game.
The Beavers (11-5, 2-3 Pac-12) were outscored 6-1 the rest of the way.
Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said he didn’t see the play, but Reid “swore he didn’t do anything.” Officials told the coach it was clearly intentional.
“I’m just disappointed. Very disappointed,” Tinkle said. “It was a hell of a ballgame. It’s a shame. Just a shame.”
The Utes (13-5, 2-3) were able to watch the replay after the game. Dakarai Tucker said that was the first time he’d seen that in college basketball.
Oregon State sprinted out to an 11-2 lead in the first half and pushed it to 21-8 thanks to three baskets apiece from Malcolm Duvivier and Stephen Thompson Jr. The Utes responded with a 15-10 run, due in large part to seven free throws. But the Beavers led 34-23 at halftime.
“We obviously got to be able to finish games and things like that,” Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle said. “But that’s a goal that we can achieve.”
The Utes shot just 33.3 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent from behind the arc as they struggled with the Beavers zone in the first half. Oregon State shot 46.4 percent and connected on 4 of 5 3-pointers before the break.
Poeltl led the Utes with 15 points, Lorenzo Bonam scored and Jordan Loveridge chipped in nine.
Gary Payton II finished with 11 points and Tres Tinkle added 11 for Oregon State.
“It was a grind the whole game,” Poeltl said. “Felt like we didn’t play with energy the first half. We didn’t get the stops that we needed. Second half we did a better job on defense. We got running. We got them out of their zone and we executed better on offense.
“The shots went in for us a little more in the second half and that’s how you get rolling,” Poeltl said.
Oregon State: The Beavers are now 23-5 when leading at halftime under coach Wayne Tinkle. … Payton II had his streak of three consecutive 20-point games end. … The Beavers lost consecutive games for the first time this season.
Utah: Loveridge, the team’s second-leading scorer this season, was held scoreless in the first half on 0-for-5 shooting. … The Utes shot 50 percent in the second half.
Retired coach Stew Morrill was in attendance. He coached both Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak and Tinkle at the University of Montana.
“It’s been a tough five-game stretch, there’s no doubt,” Krystkowiak said. “Some of that was the fact that we started three on the road and lose the game as we did in Stanford. There’s a lot of different directions to go from there and we teetered on not a very good direction.
“It’s persistence in this league. It’s going to require some grit, passion and persistence. I’d like to believe it isn’t going to get much harder than this. Hopefully this is a little bit of a confidence boost for us, to be able to close out a game.”
Oregon State: hosts UCLA on Wednesday.
Utah: travels to face Washington State on Thursday.